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What attitudes and beliefs is Suskind satirizing through the character of...

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shantigo | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 11, 2010 at 12:55 AM via web

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What attitudes and beliefs is Suskind satirizing through the character of Taillade-Espinasse?

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mstokes | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 11, 2010 at 2:59 AM (Answer #1)

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La Taillade-Espinasse’s amateur interst in science leads him to develop indulgent and ridiculous theses (fluidal theory), which he supposedly demonstrates on Grenouille. He feeds him, providing him with new clothes, and giving him the opportunity to create a perfume. Grenouille looks like a clean gentleman for the first time in his life. However he is anything but a gentleman, he is a murder and what is essentially wrong about Grenouille cannot be fixed by the Marquis, or by cleanliness and new clothes. (almost like “The Emperors New Clothes”) Susskind uses this as a satire about how we judge by appearances.

Grenouille tricks his way into the laboratory of a famous perfumer. There he creates a body odour for himself from ingredients including "cat shit," "cheese," and "vinegar", whereupon he is accepted by society.

 The novel is set in The Age of Enlightenment, an age in which poverty, filth, and superstition coexisted uneasily with the values of progress, liberty, and reason. While Grenouille embodies the former The Marquis embodies the latter. This is done as a satire. The utterance by the Marquis that  "life could develop only at a certain distance from the earth, since the earth itself constantly emits a corrupting gas, a so-called fluidum letale, which lames vital energies and sooner or later totally extinguishes them" satirises some of the more flamboyant theories of the Age and comments on the nature of Grenouille.

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